Trump promises to fight congressional Democrats

President Trump called Democrats "angry" at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania after instructing his former top attorney, Don McGahn, to defy a subpoena.
5:32 | 05/21/19

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Transcript for Trump promises to fight congressional Democrats
We get the latest on the showdown between president trump, congress and the courts. The president took off on his opponents at a rally in Pennsylvania last night after he ordered his former white house counsel not to testify before the house judiciary committee and responded to a court ruling that congress can see his financial records. Our senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce with the story. Reporter: We are seeing a real escalation in the fight between the president and congressional Democrats. The president's strategy to resist all of their requests lost an early test in the courts but trump infuriated Democrats when he instructed his former counsel not to show up. Instead of being able to question don mcgahn Democrats here this morning will face off with an empty chair. Overnight on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania -- Reporter: -- President trump is promising to fight congressional Democrats at every turn. Angry Democrats all after us with all of it and they still have -- it's like little embers that are burning. Reporter: This morning on capitol hill, the president is blocking his former top attorney, don mcgahn, from testifying. Trucking him to defy a subpoena citing constitutional precedent. Mcgahn was interviewed by the special counsel for more than 30 hours. Democrats say he's a key witness to the president's obstruction. And are accusing the white house of stonewalling. You're dealing with a lawless president willing to go to any lengths to prevent testimony that might implicate him. That does implicate him. Reporter: And they're promising to fight back. Firsthing we'll do is hold -- we'll have to hold mcgahn in contempt. Reporter: As the standoff escalates Democrats scored their first victory in court asking for his accountants to hand over eight years of financial records. The president is vowing to appeal. We won round one today. Reporter: Democrats are clashing over what comes next. House speaker Nancy Pelosi facing calls to initiate impeachment proceedings. This is not just about this president. This is about upholding the rule of law and future presidents will be guided by what we do in this moment. Reporter: But, George, democratic leaders are pushing back against these calls, especially with 2020 right around the corner. Top Democrats are concerned that any impeachment proceedings might overshadow their agenda and point to the court victory shows they are on the right path. Meantime, the house intelligence committee yesterday released documents detailing Michael Cohen's claims against the president's current lawyers. Reporter: Yeah, George, getting a new look at these transcripts. They show that Cohen said Jay sekulow asked had him to lie. Cohen also told investigators that he had multiple conversations with sekulow about receiving a potential pardon. They're disputing that account. Thank you. Let's talk about it with Dan Abrams. For more on this, let's go to the judge's ruling. The accounting firm has to turn over the records. Click and clear decision by the judge saying it's not a close In any other world this would be a huge decision, the idea that the president of the united States has just lost a major court ruling and yet for now it's going to sort of fall and people are going to wait for the next level in this and that's going to be the appellate court. No question it's a big and clear loss and the judge in his ruling referred to the possibility of impeachment proceedings saying congress has the oversight power including for impeachment proceedings and as a result the congress has got to be able to investigate potential criminal wrongdoing. The president also defying congressional power saying his former counsel don mcgahn should not testify today. Right, and this is a tougher really there are two doctrine, one we talk about a lot, the idea of executive privilege, confidential conversations between the president and his inner circle. That's not what they're focusing on now. Now they're actually taking a broader view and saying it's presidential immunity meaning don mcgahn shouldn't even show up to answer any questions because there is this broad theory that he's effectively an arm of the president and that this would be like calling in the president to testify. This one is a closer call. Both on the issue of executive privilege and on the issue of presidential power. Closer call but in all these cases appears congress goes into these fights with a stronger legal hand in the courts which has led a lot to say what's going on is the president is trying to run out the clock. Yeah, because every time this district court ruling they'll still wait for an appeal before they implement that. Aha, they'll turn over the no, no, you'll still wait for the next ruling which should be -- they're saying let's hold off. We'll appeal it to the appellate court and if they lose they'll say I want to appeal it to the supreme court. This argument that some Democrats are making if they opened up impeachment proceedings it would streamline the process and make it go more quickly. It's true it would help it go a little faster and would have stronger arguments in certain cases to say we have an official proceeding ongoing but this now becomes a balancing of the political price versus the legal advantage and the legal advantage is relatively small in adding impeachment proceedings. It's there. It's real. But you have to factor in politics. For now Nancy Pelosi thinks that the political argument -- Absolutely. Dan Abrams, thanks very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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